Walking into St Joseph’s Private Secondary School on 17 May 2021 felt like a homecoming of sorts, a comforting return to a space that holds good memories while becoming a source of great hope for me. This return to the school is a homecoming because I spent 2 years here as a teacher between 2014 and 2016, growing with the school and growing to love those who study, teach, and work in it. It’s good to be back and I hope to be able to continue to grow with the school and everyone in it.
A little about me, for those whom I’ve not met yet – I’m a Jesuit (like Fr Francis and Fr Joseph) and a Singaporean (unlike the other two). Even before becoming a Jesuit, I’ve been interested in education and have taught at a variety of levels in Singapore, India and the Philippines.
I left St Joseph’s Private School in 2016 to continue my studies in preparation for ordination to the priesthood. Just over a month after leaving Kuching in June that year, I found myself in Rome, struggling with Italian language classes and very worried about what was to come. What followed was three years of theological studies (theology is the study of God and religion – and it’s a mandatory part of the preparation for ordination!) that was challenging but also gave me some very interesting insights as an educator. I had first-hand experience of what it’s like to learn in a language that I’m not familiar in, an experience that I think can help as I continue my journey in education.
At the end of the three years, I was ordained a Deacon in Rome and was subsequently sent to Berkeley in the USA for further theological studies. This phase was exciting because I was able to deepen my interests in religion and education while also getting the opportunity to work with leaders in both fields. I was still in the USA when the pandemic struck and took the opportunity of the lockdowns to complete my research and writing. I returned to Singapore at the end of 2020 and was ordained a priest on 28 January 2021. Just over three months after that, I found myself back in Kuching, excited at the prospect of the return to the school. •